US envoy briefs Pakistan leaders on peace talks with Taliban

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ISLAMABAD (AP) — U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad briefed Pakistani leaders on Friday on last week's first official talks with the Taliban since President Donald Trump declared a near-certain peace deal with the insurgents dead in September.

Khalilzad met with Pakistan's foreign minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who assured the American envoy that Islamabad will continue to press for a durable peace in neighboring Afghanistan. Pakistani state-run media said Khalilzad praised Pakistan’s role in facilitating the ongoing peace process.

Last Saturday, Khalilzad met with Taliban representatives in Qatar, where the insurgents maintain a political office. It was his first such direct contact between the envoy and the militant group since Trump halted negotiations three months ago after a particularly deadly wave of Taliban attacks, including a Kabul suicide bombing that killed an American soldier.

The Qatar meeting focused on getting a Taliban promise to reduce violence, with a permanent cease-fire being the eventual goal.

Khalilzad is trying to lay the groundwork for negotiations between Afghans on both sides of the protracted conflict but the Taliban, who now control nearly half of Afghanistan, refuse to talk directly with Kabul government representatives.

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